Published January 5, 2024
Events from Iowa to Virginia suggest hard choices ahead for the rising generation of Christians
Recent events have provided a fascinating, if somewhat depressing, insight into the state of the American moral imagination. The Satanic Temple of Iowa erected a statue of the pagan god Baphomet outside of the state capitol. A school board member in Fairfax County, Va., was sworn in with his hand placed on a pile of LGBTQ+ themed books. And in the nation’s capitol, a staffer allegedly made a gay pornographic video in a Senate hearing room. Meanwhile, a storm has erupted surrounding a rather flamboyant video of tap dancing in the White House to celebrate Christmas.
Do these things share anything in common? Some have been tempted to see them as signs of the moral nihilism of the left. Perhaps, although the White House video seems no more tacky than many other elements of the commercial Christmas season. As for the D.C. pornographic video, sleazy people do sleazy things all the time. It is hard to extrapolate from the immorality of a staffer to an entire culture. More concerning are the events in Iowa and Virginia.
It is not clear from reports whether the statue of Baphomet is a serious attempt to bring such explicit paganism into the realm of cultural respectability or whether it is more of a statement concerning religion and the ownership of public space. Either way, it does point to an emerging problem within the United States: the collapse of a shared moral consensus that saw as a source of public good the broad moral contours of a Christian ethic, even if detached from the religious claims of Christianity.
Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. In addition to his scholarship on the intellectual foundations of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Trueman is also interested in the origins, rise, and current use of critical theory by progressives. He serves as a professor at Grove City College.